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Funding For Sea Bright Municipal Building, Beach Facility On Hold Pending Referendum

SEA BRIGHT: Borough residents will decide on whether or not the construction of two major municipal buildings will move forward.

Sea Bright Councilman Brian Kelly announced during the July 5 council meeting that the borough has received a referendum petition which will bring the three bond ordinances totaling nearly $13 million that would fund a new municipal building and beach pavilion up to a vote.

The referendum would either be held during a special meeting or during the Nov. 8 general election. The special election would have a cost of about $15,000 for the borough.

"We're researching that now; how to address it, how to fund it, the timing and so forth," Kelly said.

A bond referendum requires a petition that must be signed by at least 15 percent of residents who voted in last year's general election which equates to about 45 signatures. The petition received over 60 signatures.

Before the petition was filed last week, the next step was for the borough to finalize the plans for the buildings and go out to bid for their construction. Kelly said the referendum will halt that process until either the special election or general election.

"Essentially right now the projects have stopped in their tracks," Kelly said. "They were originally slated to break ground in November but now we have a minimum 3-month delay or longer."

Mayor Dina Long said the process moving forward will be discussed at the next Sea Bright Council workshop meeting on July 14 at 8:30 a.m.

The two municipal buildings are a 8,690-square-foot community Center/beach pavilion, which will would a library, lifeguard station, storage space, rental space, beach lockers and bathrooms and a municipal building which would house the borough's police and fire departments as well as its office of emergency management, borough hall and bays for its department of public works vehicles.

FEMA and insurance and the borough's beach access fund will cover roughly half the cost, leaving about a $7.3 million cost for the municipality.

The tax impact on the owner of an average home in the borough valued at $500,000 would be an increase of $250 on their tax bill to help fund the municipal building project at its current cost. The cost to construct the community center/beach pavilion will not fall on the taxpayers.

Borough Administrator Verruni has said the cost of the projects can still decrease is the council decides to remove certain aspects or go with cheaper materials in some of the design features. He said other revenue streams such as paid parking and revenue from a proposed cell tower could help lower the cost as well.

Kelly said that if the newly-implemented paid parking generates $125,000, when the debt services for the projects begins between 2019-20, that would lower the tax burden to a $172 increase for the owner of an average home.

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